What differentiates this from, say Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas or Slade House, is that while there are multiple narrators and the chapters each take a different style like those others, there is a first person narrator who provides at least half the narration of each chapter. And for all the stylistic flourishes and changes the book is essentially a coming of age, search-for-meaning story. The main narrator is Eiji Miyake, who is in search of his father who abandoned him, his mother and sister when the children were young. His sister has since died, his mother is in a mental health facility and has not spoken to him for years. The search for his father and, by extension meaning, is a through line probably makes the book his most linear excepting Black Swan Green.
The book also functions as a cautionary tale about magical thinking. As the tone of the story shifts from chapter to chapter so does Miyake’s sense of meaning, and what he wants. Despite the fantastical feel of even the non-imaginary events, he constantly is living in his mind, and it consistently makes things difficult for him. And yet, that fantasy world is an enjoyable place to spend some time, and the way in which Miyake changes as he navigates it is believable.
All in all, a very good book. Low to middle in my list of Mitchell novels, but that’s more about how well I like the others. Highly recommended.
Owned But Previously Unread 2020 22/75
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